Recruitment Tip: Why job hopping isn’t always a red flag

15 August 2023 Sharyn Waterworth

Employers typically view job hopping as a risk, however, in recent years, job hopping has become more common. Is it a recruitment red flag? Read more now.

​From many hiring managers, job hopping is viewed negatively as traditional thinking has dictated that employees should stay at a company for the long term – or at least a few years.

But job hopping is becoming more and more common, with many employees that swiftly switch roles, and gaining career skills and experience at a far faster rate than their counterparts as a result.

So, is job hopping a red flag? Here’s this recruiter’s professional opinion…

What is job hopping?

Job hopping refers to the practice of holding multiple jobs in a relatively short time. Frequent job changes have traditionally been seen as a cause for concern by employers but this is changing.

Younger generations in particular have a reputation for job-hopping. A recent Gallup report on the millennial generation reveals that 21% of millennials say they've changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same.

Following the Great Resignation, job hopping seems to have gained even more momentum. In a February 2022 LinkedIn study, 25% of Gen-Zers and 23% of millennials said they hoped or planned to leave their current employers within the next six months.

Why job hopping isn’t necessarily a red flag

In the past, employers typically saw job hopping as a risk, as they viewed it as a sign a candidate may be noncommittal. However, in recent years, job hopping has become more common, as competitive candidates seek higher pay and better titles.

There are many reasons an employee might change jobs, including job dissatisfaction or a desire for a career change. Opportunities may also arise as the job market adjusts to changes, such as an increase in remote work. Sometimes, a job ends for a reason that's out of the employee’s control, like a layoff, necessitating a fast change.

If the candidate is able to explain the experience and knowledge they’ve gained from past positions, their job hopping could be the exact opposite of a red flag - it could be an asset to your team.

After all, an employee that’s job hopped will likely have a greater wealth of experience to draw from - collecting skills, abilities and knowledge they can use in future roles.

You may also find that candidates that have job hopped possess important attributes like the ability to adapt quickly, which other candidates that have remained in the same role for several years may not hold.

How to determine when job hopping is a red flag

Although job hopping is more acceptable than it once was, it's vital that any candidate you’re considering is able to demonstrate desirable characteristics like dependability and explain the reason for multiple job changes on their resume.

A good hiring manager can and should ask why a candidate has changed jobs so frequently if job hopping is present on their resume.

If you are concerned job hopping may be an indicator of a lack of focus or a person who is difficult to work with, be sure to sound these areas out in an interview with the candidate.

If an undesirable trait, like one of those I’ve mentioned above, is evident - it’s likely that the candidate has been job hopping without intention and has jumped at the chance for a larger salary or better title before realising that the switch wasn’t ultimately the right move for them. And this lack of self-awareness is a red flag.

The moral of the story?

While it might be tempting to consider a job hopper as nothing more than a flight risk and pass on that candidate in favour of others who showcase longer tenures on their résumés, it’s essential to look at the overall context.

If a candidate’s job hopping makes sense, don’t rule them out. You could be missing out on one hell of an asset to your team!

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